Cleomaceae (Capparaceae)

©The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
Dec 2004, Feb 2011

     Wislizenia has been generally regarded monotypic, W. refracta Engelm., which included four subspecies, all  have been considered annuals as indicated in Shreeve and Wiggins, Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert (1964); see also http://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/yellows/yellow38.html). However, three species are currently recognized by Gordon C. Tucker in Flora North America (Vol.7, 2010) based on differences in habit of the plant.

     We collected samples of Wislizenia in April 1990 from a sand dune along the Gulf Coast in the southern part of Baja California Norte near Buffeo.  They were identified Wislizenia fruticosa Greene based on the shrubby habit as evident in photo shown below where occurring near its type locality, Calamajué, based on a specimen collected by Brandegee.  It was not clear whether the type for W. palmeri, an earlier name, represented a woody plant; thus, our plants were assigned the name W. fruticosa, because the epithet implies that the species was shrubby and because we collected it near the type locality.  But this is now regarded as a synonym of W. palmeri

The plants at Buffeo are not even close to being annual.  They have woody stems with roots very deep in sand.  They appear much like Isomeris arborea and are likely to be passed by for this species if it were not for the distinctive fruit, which is a flattened triangular-shaped camarium, 2 celled, with one seed in each cell.  The collection site was observed during the 1990's to have become increasing utilized by Off-Road-Vehicles.


Wislizenia palmeri
Gulf Coast near near Buffeo (Buteo)
and Isla San Luis, BCN.
Spjut & Marin 11627 (BCMEX, US)
April 1990.  Habit of the plant on left, general habitat shown on right.

Wislizenia palmeri

Spjut & Marin 11627 (BCMEX, US)



Wislizenia palmeri

Near margin of playa, Palen Lake, Sonoran Desert. CNPS Field-Based Rare Vegetation Sampling/Mapping Workshop in East Riverside County, Feb 5–6, 2011.



Trees and Shrubs of Kern County (Jan 2013)

Wislizenia palmeri A. Gray 1873.  Palmer's spectacle fruit. Similar to bladderpod in habit and foliage, but notably differs in the bilobed, peanut-like fruit (camarium), which separates at maturity into its carpellary units, each containing a single seed.  Known from sand dunes bordering the sea along the mid region of the Baja California Gulf Coast, and from sand dunes near a dry lake north of Desert Center in Riverside Co., California, reported from San Diego County, and sand dunes in Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona. Although not known from Kern Co., JM2 (online) refers to a record of Wislizenia from the Mojave Desert, treated as one species with three subspecies, two of which are annual herbs, one of which is reported in Kern Co., W. refracta Englemann ssp. californica (Greene) S. Keller.  In FNA (Vol. 7), the varieties are treated as species.